Unreliable me? Nah I don’t watch telly, and I’ve only been out for a beer once this week

I've been scoping a project about media research. And one of the interesting things that popped out for me was quite how unreliable people are at reporting their own behaviour. Quite why we should believe anybody when they rabbit on about what they do is stil a mystery. Don't ask us. Watch us. The particular statistic was that some groups underreported their TV consumption by as much as a whopping 3.5 hours a day. How could people be so self deluded or for that matter think that they could fool anybody. How do you lose 3.5 hours a day (become a social media addict that's what) I bet twittering reporting stats are similarly unreliable.

What it shows is that research which measures needs to take account of the social meaning of what is being measured. When people report on their usage they are talking to their self image, their projected image and their imagined peergroup. All of which leads to wildly different results. Alcohol is another wonderful territory where the same people will wildly under and overestimate their drink consumption depending on the context of the question. What it also shows is that in a context of multichannel consumption self reporting only has value when you are look at the status of the category or brand in question. If you wanna ask how cool telly watching is then ask how much telly I watched last night. Otherwise you're going to have to watch them. If people are actively using between 5 and 10 media channels a day – we honestly don't have a clue what and how much we are using. So take the punters out of the equation. Observe the inputs. And track the outputs.

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